Allow me to brand an image into your mind’s eye: cool-girl, Manhattan goddess slings on her trunk show markdown Prada heels on her way to her all-too glamorous uptown job, catching the train with a bagel in hand (reduced fat cream cheese, of course) and not a hair out of place. This concept, my guiding light for as long as I can remember, seduced me into what could essentially be described as the underground it-girl poker ring of my mind, commandeered by Carrie Bradshaw herself, with weekly guest players like Serena van der Woodsen, Mindy Lahiri, and Holly Golightly. The it-girl idea, while not necessarily the most realistic, is one that has inspired probably thousands of young girls like myself to whip out their collared shirts and carry their lattes with pride.
While the concept of an it-girl exists almost entirely in fiction, it is one that carries a lot of weight for me. The idea that I could be so independent and so successful that all of my basic needs would no longer be of concern was one that I became obsessed with. The idea of power, and more specifically, creative power, consumed me.
Of course, the Manhattanites I was longing to imitate were not necessarily the greatest role models. Carrie Bradshaw is a pretty horrible decision maker, Mindy Lahiri is slightly brain dead, and Serena, well we wont even get started on her. Despite this, the cool-girl vision lives on, driving me to be my most Instagrammable self at all times, and forcing me to work hard to build a brand so that I can ultimately make my way to the top. But all of this for what? Prada shoes that will get ruined after two minutes of walking down the disgusting streets of Manhattan? An invite to the Met Gala? A date with the style editor of GQ?
PSA for all of my like-minded women out there: I don’t think this concept really exists. I watched someone’s interview with Alexa Chung (a frequently praised “it-girl”) the other day and I recall her saying something that blew my idealistic little mind. She was talking about thrift shopping in some cool part of Manhattan (of course) when she mentioned that she’s always surprised when people call her an “it-girl” because she still sleeps on a mattress on the dusty floor of her apartment. Alexa freaking Chung sleeps on a mattress on the floor. If she, the queen of all real-life-Manhattanite-it-girls, sleeps on the floor, then there is not even a sliver of hope for us mortals.
I was feeling a bit down and out about this whole thing, so I did what any Manhattan It-Girl would do: ordered Chinese takeout. As I sat there, teriyaki chicken in hand, I had a revelation. “I did what any Manhattan It-Girl would do.”
My cathartic moment went a little bit like this-
Being a glamorous socialite isn’t about having it all, it’s about pretending to have it all. Holly Golightly, queen of poise and class, wasn’t an it-girl until she pretended she was. Carrie Bradshaw, big shot editor, could never quite figure out how to be in a relationship. Serena van der Woodsen, goddess amongst humans, went to rehab and had an affair with a married politician. Mindy Lahiri, the brilliant and confident doctor, lives by the bible of <em>When Harry Met Sally</em>. The women I’m looking up to are just big, fat, fakers! Maybe that’s where the intrigue came from to begin with. These women made something out of nothing, and they fooled us all into believing that we should aspire to be just like them.
I want to repeat this sentiment: the it-girl life isn’t about having it all, it’s about making everyone else think you have it all. I will sleep well tonight knowing that my dreams aren’t crushed. In fact, they’ve only just begun. These women taught me that even if your life is a boiling-over-hot-mess, you can still be successful. It doesn’t matter if you’re not perfect, because as long as your confidence shines through, you’ll be on top of the world, and the quickest way to make people think you’re on top of the world is by believing it yourself. Carrie, Mindy, and all of our other muses are totally aware of the things that make them psychotic and lame, but they manage to get it together enough to pursue amazing things. Thank you Carrie, thank you Mindy, and thank you Serena, for reminding me that with a spritz of hairspray, a dash of wit, and a Venti Iced Americano, I too can achieve greatness.